Articles

  1. Fuelling Your Second Wind

    At some point during training we’ve all had moments where we’re ready to throw in the towel and give up for the day. Sometimes stopping early is a good thing as it can help us avoid injuring ourselves from over exertion but at other times we need to push past the fatigue and the aching muscles and push ourselves further than feels possible. If you’ve ever done that, you’ve probably experienced the phenomenon known as the second wind.

    This new burst of energy, right when your body is feeling at its weakest, can be as confusing as it is welcome to athletes who aren’t sure what causes it. For a lot of people it’s unpredictable, it might come at the second kilometer of a half marathon or it might be the last push that carries you over the finish line. Sometimes it might not come at all. Understanding what powers your second wind and how to fuel it can help you get the most out of your training sessions, or give you an edge when it’s time to compete.

    When you first start exercising your body uses its most readily available source of fuel - carbohydrates - and burns them without oxygen. This is known as anaerobic metabolism and its great at powering short bursts of high intensity exercise, like breaking out into a sprint, but isn’t sufficient to keep our muscles going for long periods of time. When you’re working without oxygen your body can’t break down glucose and glutamine into carbon dioxide and water like it wants to, instead it all becomes lactic acid. As lactate builds up in the muscles it creates the burning sensation you’ll be familiar with, whilst also making you feel generally fatigued. At this point, especially if you’re just starting to work out or if you’ve had a break for a while, you might start to question the wisdom of going to the gym. You might want to quit altogether!

    Whilst all of this is happening however, your aerobic metabolism has been warming up and getting ready to take over. Your body will increasingly turn to fat stores for energy, so you’re no longer producing lactic acid. Exercise starts to feel better - sometimes even euphoric - as your muscles start to flush with the oxygen they’ve been needing. This is the key to getting you second wind. As long as you keep going at a similar intensity and you have the stores of energy to fuel it, your metabolism will keep going in its aerobic state and exercise will feel easy. If you suddenly ramp things up then you’ll need to utilise fuel from anaerobic sources and the lactic acid buildup starts again.

    That’s how it works. But how can we learn to count on our second wind? It’s not possible to control it directly, but there are ways to make it more predictable.

    First of all, the fitter you are the sooner you’ll get your second wind. The switch from anaerobic to aerobic metabolism happens faster in people who exercise regularly and maintain high levels of physical fitness. If you leave your car in the garage over the winter and don’t drive it at all, then when you come to take it out the engine might cough and splutter and need to be warmed up a bit before it can get going, whereas if you drive it every day it’s primed and ready to go.

    Another way to help fuel your second wind is through the use of certain supplements. L-carnitine and Omega 3 fatty acids both help to stimulate your aerobic metabolism and both will improve you cardiovascular health. L-carnitine in particular has been shown to stimulate red blood cell production, resulting in improved oxygen supply to the muscles during exercise.

    Particularly for those of us who prefer sustained, endurance style workouts, learning the mechanics of how our body fuels exercise can help us to train healthier and perform better. Once you know how to properly fuel your second wind then those first 10-15 minutes of exercise won’t feel so rough anymore, as you’ll know that the best is still to come.

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  2. Honey and lemon chicken skewers with pear salad

    These succulent chicken skewers have a sweet and tasty flavour that is complimented by the fruity and tangy pear salad. It’s the perfect summer meal for those of you following the AMFormula diet!

    Ingredients:

    For two portions:
    • 2 chicken fillets
    • 1 lemon
    • 3 sprigs of thyme
    • 2 tsp honey
    • Salt and pepper
    • 1 spring onion
    • 300 g cherry tomatoes
    • 200 g carrots
    • 1/2 Bunch of chives
    • 1 medium sized pear
    • 1 tbsp fruit vinegar
    • 2 tbsp olive oil
    • 4 wooden skewers

    Preparation time:

    60 minutes (including marinating time)

    Cooking time:

    <10 minutes

    Preparation:

    1. Cut the chicken fillets into pieces. Wash and halve the lemon, rubbing the peel over the chicken before squeezing the juice from half over the top. Wash the thyme, then pull the leaves from the stem.
    2. Make your marinade by mixing some lemon peel with 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of honey, thyme, salt and pepper. Toss the chicken with the marinade and cover for 1 hour.
    3. For the side salad, wash and chop your spring onion, tomatoes and pear and combine in a bowl. Using a vegetable peeler, shave the carrot into long thin strips. Finally, add the shaved carrots and chopped chives to the bowl.
    4. Make a simple dressing by mixing 1 tbsp of apple cider vinegar, 2 tbsp of lemon juice, 1 tsp of honey, 1 1/2 tbsp of olive oil before drizzling it over the salad. Add salt and pepper to taste, then plate the salad ready for the chicken skewers. You’re almost done!
    5. Once the meat has had time to marinade, place it onto some wooden skewers. Coat a frying pan with ½ tbsp of olive oil and fry the chicken skewers for 6 minutes, making sure to cook each side evenly. Tuck in!
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  3. Smoked Salmon Rolls

    These elegant and simple smoked salmon rolls can be stored in the fridge for a healthy, low-fat snack for you to grab in between meals, or can make up a light meal themselves along with a few slices of whole-grain toast.

    Ingredients:

    For two servings:
    • 40g of low fat cream cheese
    • 1 cucumber
    • 1/2 bunch dill
    • 150 g smoked salmon (sliced)
    • Pinch of salt & pepper
    • A little of your favourite curry powder

    Preparation time:

    20 minutes

    Instructions:

    1. Place the cream cheese and washed dill into a bowl and stir to combine. Once it’s nice and creamy, season it with a pinch of salt, pepper, and curry powder to taste.
    2. Halve the cucumber and use a vegetable peeler or mandoline slicer to cut the cucumber into long, thin strips.
    3. Place the cucumber strips on a plate, then top with the sliced smoked salmon. Spread the cream cheese and dill mixture evenly over the top, then roll each one up.
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